BOSTON (CBS) — When the Massachusetts drops its mask mandate and other COVID restrictions at the end of the month, Eastern Mass. Catholic churches will see changes, too. The Boston Archdiocese announced Thursday that as of May 29, fully vaccinated parishioners will no longer need to wear face masks or maintain social distancing at church.

Pastors will not have to ask churchgoers if they’ve received a coronavirus vaccine.

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“Parishes and pastors will not be policing the population,” the Archdiocese said in a statement. “Every parishioner and every family will be expected to make a sound, reasonable decision about when they are ready to take off their masks and be near other people.”

The new guidelines mean every row of pews could be available for use, and maskless singing can resume. Handshaking will also be allowed to resume at the Sign of Peace.

Parishes are still encouraged to accommodate people who have not been vaccinated or who are not comfortable being close to others yet. They can do that by continuing to offer outdoor services and streaming mass online.

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St. Margaret Mary Church in Westwood will give parishioners an option to social distance.

“For the opening weeks of this, the left hand part of the church will be, you can sit as close as you want to one another and without masks. The right hand side of the church will still be social distancing and with masks,” said Fr. Paul Soper of St. Margaret Mary Church.

The Archdiocese said pastors will have “a high degree of discretion” in implementing new guidelines, depending on what is right for their church. The new guidance does not apply to Catholic schools in the area.

Click here to read the full guidelines.

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CBSBoston.com Staff